Willetton Senior High School Vietnam Service Journey 2020


Willetton Senior High School Vietnam Service Journey 2020

Trip Highlights

  • Explore Hanoi’s vibrant streets & historical sites with expert guides
  • Assist a remote local school in a worthwhile 5 day service community project which will improve the lives of the residents greatly
  • Embark on a 4 day trek through remote hilltribes
  • Personal development. Develop leadership qualities whilst gaining independence and resilience
  • Cruise through UNESCO World Heritage listed Ha Long Bay
  • Return home with a rich insight into the culture, traditions and society of Vietnam
  • Multi activity day in spectacular Ninh Binh

Trip Summary

A wonderful, active, tailor made service immersion program designed especially for the students of Willetton Senior High School. Without a doubt travelling through the rural and urban settings of Vietnam under your own steam is one of the finest ways to discover the country’s charm, culture and stunning landscapes. Travelling with our local guide we gain a wonderful insight into Vietnam and its people. We start the adventure by taking in the historical and cultural highlights in and around Hanoi. We then head West past Mai Chau to the ethnic minority villages around Hang Kia. With its deep valleys, thickly forested mountains and a variety of ethnic minority groups, you will be guaranteed a huge welcome when you start your service learning project at a local school. We will work side by side a local labour force and the local community to improve conditions at a remote local school in need. From here we travel to Pu Luong Nature Reserve and embark on a stunning 4 day trek through remote hamlets and hill tribe villages while staying in dormitory guest stays. This is a wonderful opportunity to experience first hand the lifestyles of rural Vietnam. We continue to Ninh Binh, one of the most spectacular settings in all of South East Asia as we embark on a fun day of different activities. We complete our journey in the UNESCO World Heritage listed Ha Long Bay where we set sail among the limestone pinnacles and admire the grottoes, caves and sheltered water ways. We return to Hanoi before flying home to Perth. Throughout your time in Vietnam, you will be discussing with your guides the local geography, biology or history and learn about the complex cultures of Vietnam. Participating in this learning experience will not only greatly help a remote community in need it will contribute greatly towards your studies and personal development. This is truly a life-changing Service Learning experience!

Itinerary

After so many months thinking, preparing, and planning for your Vietnam adventure to begin, the day has finally arrived! Please make your way to Perth Airport to check in for your flight to Hanoi via Singapore. On arrival in Hanoi you will be met at the airport and transferred to our centrally located hotel. We will check in and freshen up before heading out to begin our exploration of Hanoi. Your guide will have a full trip briefing with you in the hotel, outlining your movements over the coming days. The briefing will also include a language lesson so you can learn some phrases to use over the coming weeks. Hanoi is one of Asia’s most enchanting cities, full of culture, history and the engaging contradictions of a rapidly developing and deeply traditional society. We enjoy a walking tour to explore the vibrant Old Quarter. Here many tiny streets join to sell a huge diversity of products. In the old days, each street bore the name of the product sold - “Shoe Street”, “Noodle Street” and the like. Today, the streets sometimes sell a variety of items, but often the names are accurate. The Old Quarter also houses some of the most interesting art galleries and fashion houses. We will walk around Hoan Kiem Lake, located in the centre of town and visit Ngoc Son Temple. This afternoon we have tickets for a performance of Hanoi's famous Water Puppet Theatre, a series of 17 stories presented by 11 puppeteers whom traditionally performed during the monsoonal period when rice farming in the Red River Delta was not possible. The stories reflect their way of life and dreams as well as providing respite from their demanding work schedule. We will have a low key dinner at a local restaurant and an early night after your long flight.

Meals:  D

Today we have the full day to explore Hanoi. After breakfast at our hotel we head out to Ba Dinh Square and start our day visiting the historical and cultural highlights to be found in Hanoi. Our visits may include The Presidential Palace (formerly Palace of the Governor-General of French Indochina), Ho Chi Minh’s house-on-stilt, the Temple of Literature and the nearby One Pillar Pagoda. This afternoon we also visit the Museum of Ethnology, which gives an excellent overview of the country's ethnic groups, their customs and ways of life. We finish the day with a walking food tour of the old quarter before freshening up at our hotel and heading out to dinner.

Meals:  B,L,D

After an early breakfast we head West towards the border with Laos. Our drive to the rocky plateau of Hang Kai takes around 4 hours. This area is home to the Hmong ethnic group and sits at approximately 1400 mtrs above sea level. The rural location is simply stunning with rolling hills and verdant rice fields, and gives you a very different perspective from the bustling streets of Hanoi. We will have lunch here at a local guesthouse run by a friendly local family and we can gain an understanding about life in the area. After lunch we walk for approximately 2 hours down the valley to a Hmong Hamlet (village) called Pa Co, where we will complete our service program. We will visit the project site and start splitting ourselves into groups and assessing the work that needs to be carried out by the group. Whilst we are here we will sleep in a traditional stilt house converted to a open dormitory configuration. Each night we will help with dinner preparation with the local peoples, an amazing opportunity to see a very different way of life and learn new skills. **Whilst our accommodation in a traditional stilt house converted into a dormitory is rudimentary it is a highlight of many peoples journey. Each student will have an individual mattress and mosquito net as well as clean bed sheets (however we do encourage you to take a silk inner sheet) The toilets are western standards and bathrooms are equipped with hot running water.

Meals:  B,L,D

After breakfast, we walk to the project site. There will be a good deal of flexibility in the hours that you work each day, but it is anticipated that you will be involved in labour work for up to 6 - 7 hours a day. You should bring a pair of study workman’s gloves with you from home and wear clothing which you do not mind getting dirty. The people from the village will be very receptive to your visit and the improvements which you are making that will bring real long term benefits to the entire village. The Xa Linh kinder and primary school currently houses 125 students in 5 classes. The school is in desperate need for a new classroom, kitchen, toilet, fence around the perimeter and playground. Around 450 Green Hmong families feed into the school. Over 40% of which live below the poverty line. This is a great opportunity for the students of Willetton HS to make a real difference and leave their legacy. The amount of work we can achieve will depend on our fundraising efforts. The project is set up alongside our Travel, Give, Grow concept offering unique experiences to help foster respect for the natural world as well as the diverse peoples and cultures that live in it. This style of travel helps develop confidence, resilience, tolerance, problem solving abilities, team work, fitness and key life skills

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning we complete any unfinished project work if required and say goodbye to our hosts. There will be a celebration as we hand the completed project back over to the local community. We will board our private vehicle and travel approximately 50 km to the entrance of the Pu Luong Nature Reserve. We disembark the bus at Ban hang village and start our trek. For the next four days we hike across the nature reserve from West to East, through small hamlets and villages, through stunning scenery. The terrain we trek through is very diverse changing from mountains, to jungle, to terraced rice fields and along rivers. Today's trek will take around 5 hours, passing through small villages along remote trails. We reach the secluded village of Kho Muong in the afternoon, a lovely place untouched by the outside world and nestled at the base of the surrounding mountains. Overnight traditional dormitory Trek approx. 5 hours (16km)

Meals:  B,L,D

After breakfast with our host we continue on our trek. Today's hike takes us deeper into the reserve. We start through a stretch of wild forest that has some challenging uphill sections. We take our time and gain strength from each other. Treks like this are challenging and really bond the group together as well as help to build resilience amongst the group. People are known to make lifelong friends on such a journey. Our trek then turns downhill as we head into the small village of Ban Nua. The trek today is half the distance of our previous day however with more up and down hill sections it is more challenging. Overnight traditional dormitory Trek approx. 6 hours (8km)

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning we wake to the sound of the birds in the trees and have breakfast before packing up our gear and heading back out on the trail. Today's hike is around 15km and less challenging than yesterday. We walk through villages and cultivated areas where we can see daily life unfolding in the fields. This is a wonderful day as we will meet many local people form different ethnic backgrounds. Our destination today, Ban Don, is considered to be home to some of the most spectacular rural terraced rice fields in Vietnam. Tonight we stay in a lodge based accommodation. Trek approx 6 hours (15km)

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we start the last day of our trek. We enjoy a hearty breakfast before starting a loop walk of single trails around our lodge, this is one of the most stunning and picturesque days on your trek as photo opportunities abound around every corner. We circle back and return to our lodge for lunch before boarding our vehicle for the 3 hour drive to Ninh Binh, also known as the Ha Long Bay on land! We arrive in the late afternoon and check into our hotel and refresh before we enjoy dinner. Overnight Ninh Binh Hidden Charm Resort Trek approx 3 hours (6km)

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we have a great day packed with fun activities in the stunning setting of Ninh Binh. Ninh Binh boasts one of the most spectacular settings in all of South East Asia, with hundreds of linestone cliffs rising straight out of rice paddies and rivers.The setting has been the backdrop for many movies and photoshoots. We will explore the area by bike, on foot and by boat. We start with a scenic ride through rice paddies to Hang Mua, here we dismount our bikes and climb over 500 stairs to the top to gain breathtaking views across the surrounding fields. We continue our cycle to Hoa Lu, a citidel that was once an imperial capital. We stop here for a well earned lunchbreak before we continue to Tuong Mount. We leave our bikes behind and join a local Sampan (traditional boat) as we are rowed to Galaxy caves. We continue to Thung Nham, a stunning small sub valley, before riding the 4 km back to Tam Coc where our vehicle is waiting to take us back to our hotel. Overnight Ninh Binh Hidden Charm Resort

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning after breakfast in our hotel we join our private vehicle for the drive across the red River Delta to Ha Long Bay. On arrival you will be transferred by motorized boat to our junk', which awaits us in open water. Once you have settled in we can begin our cruise around the majestic Ha Long Bay and out into the Golf of Tonkin. After lunch your captain will moor off a secluded beach where you can relax on the sand. In the afternoon we will visit a floating fishing village. There will be a cooking demonstration on board in the late afternoon. Later as evening descends you may take in the views of the top deck before you enjoy a delicious meal using beautifully prepared fresh ingredients straight from the sea. We then find a secluded place to anchor for the night. Accommodation: Syrena Cruise Built in accordance with traditional Vietnamese style and modern luxury, Syrena Cruises have maintained the high standards of luxury cruising in Halong Bay. The Syrena Cruises offer a total of 17 luxury cabins & suites accommodating a total of 34 passengers.

Meals:  B,L,D

Early risers can enjoy a Tai Chi class on the sundeck. We will continue to enjoy cruising through the Bay passing magnificent geographical formations, we will explore the Sung Sot cave (Surprise cave) which is one of the highlights of Ha Long Bay. Buffet brunch is served on board before the vessel cruises leisurely back to the dock where our coach is awaiting your arrival. We then drive to Hanoi where we can enjoy some last minute shopping and dinner before heading out to the airport for the flight home.

Meals:  B,L,D

Meals:  Nil

What's Included

  • International flights ex Perth on Singapore Airlines
  • Teachers traveling from Willetton Senior High School
  • 13 breakfasts, 13 lunch, 13 dinners.
  • Hotel, communal dormitory stay and guesthouse accommodation
  • Private air-conditioned vehicles used for all airport transfers and group transport
  • Expert English speaking tour leaders in Vietnam who will carry a group medical kit
  • Sightseeing and entry fees as listed in the itinerary
  • Private Ha Long Bay Cruise with Syrena Cruise including life jackets
  • Minimum 2.5 ltrs drinking water per day, 3 ltrs on trek days
  • Sleeping bag and trek permits
  • Tips approx AUD$50

What's Not Included

  • Mineral water beyond that supplied
  • Items of a personal nature ie phone calls laundry and email
  • Visas
  • Travel Insurance - compulsory
  • Project materials and labour force estimate to be fund raised by the group

Upcoming Travel Dates

 

AT A GLANCE

Duration:15 Days
Countries:Vietnam
Activities:5 day Community Project
4 day trek
Grade:Moderate  Click for more information
Trip Code:SOG5848